Promoting yourself (and of course, your unmatched skills) can be one of the hardest things to do – as anyone who has tried to design their own business card is likely to agree. And often, despite your best intentions, finding the time to do this falls waaaay back on the list behind a myriad of other deadlines and distractions. If you’re needing an extra nudge or, if you’d simply like to see some examples of personal branding done really well, then this list is for you. What we have here are 12 freelancers, studios and agencies whose self-promotional identities and projects are absolutely spot on and make us want to buy whatever it is they’re selling.
Studio Bolland, animated type
Richard Bolland and Jake Waldron, who collectively form the illustration and motion design company known as Studio Bolland, created a series of animated gifs depicting their name and showcasing the style of animation they do. Every letter represents something they love, resulting in a montage of things like: cats, table tennis, the Transkei and Mario Bros.
CLRS&Co. studio identity
CLRS&Co. – a conceptual design studio run under the creative direction of Marcii Goosen – designed an identity for themselves with a simple approach: something a little different, and completely monochromatic. The bespoke type was created based on Herbert Bayer’s Fonetik typeface designed in 1959.
Karabo Poppy Moletsane,
Karabo Poppy Moletsane‘s self promotional project makes use of subject matter that is now seen as South African, rather than belonging to a certain ethnic group. The name Mzanzi Like Me was inspired by the ethnic hair product ‘Black Like Me’, a brand which instilled a sense of pride in those who used it because it spoke to them personally. The word ‘Mzanzi’ replacing the word ‘Black’ appropriates Karabo’s theme to cater to all South Africans and, subsequently, encourages a sense of pride in being South African.
Punk, genetics-based algorithm CI
Punk is the digitally led, future-facing advertising agency within the King James Group. Towards the end of 2013 they launched a new corporate identity that was unlike anything we’ve seen before. In short, the company developed an algorithm based on genetics that constantly creates new versions of its identity, by itself, infinitely. What that means is that from the logotype, to the letterhead, to business cards, to email signatures – all are being created off an algorithm that makes them completely unique each and every time.
2014 Junk Mailer by Shaun Hill
While he was still a part of creative studio Says Who, Shaun Hill put together a 2014 mailer that completely altered our perception of junk mail from something that’s simply a nuisance to something we’d actually enjoy recieving. He created the mailer using a variety of left over paper stock such as brown cardboard, an old analysis accounting book, a newsprint pad, red and yellow poster board and some old brown envelopes. With these, a pack of Says Who ‘junk mail’ was assembled to include a Take-out Menu, Junk Flyers, a 14 page illustrated booklet, a poster and a 20 pack of chicken stickers. The illustrations and designs are made up from various sketches and photocopy experiments, and Shaun finished each of them by hand.
Lize-Marie Dreyer identity and promotional items
The latest personal identity by illustrator and designer Lize-Marie Dreyer comes with some simple and lovely business cards with a gold detail (and a custom font based on her own handwriting), and it also features a range of wooden self promotional items including a portfolio box and some whimsical lasercut figures.
indent Design Studio personal identity
Making the move to full-time freelance and relocating to a new city in 2013 gave Denton Pretorius the perfect excuse to redesign his studio’s own identity. As a graphic designer he uses the pseudonym indent because of it’s near-anagram qualities of his first name, and because it also represents his design ideals of leaving something memorable behind – a shift from the norm. The left indent shape can expand to any desired width and symbolises an energetic, dynamic flow found in his creations and their processes; whereas the logo’s letterforms bring an academic and systemised rhythm to the mix. To bring a handmade feel and personality, the type got a healthy dose of humanist styling. The business cards showcase some communication design skills (and of course, contact details) but more importantly they were created (through a process involving a two colour litho, blind letterpress and duplexing) to supply a unique user experience and leave a lasting impression.
MUTI, Making Muti
Cape Town based creative studio MUTI created a fun little animation to playfully illustrate the origins of their name (which is the Zulu word for traditional medicine). The animation, Making Muti, is all about a witchdoctor’s quest to collect the exotic ingredients needed for muti.
Ben Johnston personal identity
Canadian-born Ben Johnston is a self-taught designer who grew up in Cape Town. Perfeclty showcasing his signature style of bold, often monochrome graphic design Ben completed a self-initiated branding project that is made up of various elements including: ,
Made Agency branding and identity
One of the first projects that Graham Paterson did when he joined Made was to develop their new identity. The logo is based on a pyramid shape to signify rising to the top and achieving success through the work of others. It is stylised so as not to draw attention to the negative connotations of pyramid schemes. ‘Making Up History‘ also forms part of their branding strategy – an ongoing project that sees them choosing an important moment in history and adapting their Facebook profile picture each day to illustrate the occasion.
Sonia Dearling, Hirschling identity
Sonia Dearling is an illustrator and designer with an impeccable eye for colour and a certain knack for creating things that’ll make you smile. Take, for example, the set of foiled business cards, portfolio booklet and self promotional zine she created for her own personal brand Hirschling.
Publicis Machine, French Kiss
The MACHINE Group recently merged with Publicis Worldwide South Africa to form one entity: Publicis Machine. The result is a fully-integrated agency with a lead in digital, 160 strong and with offices in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. They kicked things off by announcing the merge with a light-hearted campaign, French Kiss, that also sends a clear message – “The foreplay is over. It’s time to get busy.”